Why Online “Reputation” Management Companies are Bullshit

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Online reputation management.

It’s a concept that’s pretty silly to me. At least in the way that many companies choose to sell it.

I recently was speaking with a colleague about a new venture they were entering into whereby they would perform a type of “reverse SEO” on search results that their clients found undesirable.

Phew. I think that everyone who has done anything serious online has experienced a post about them that they would like to see disappear.

So these heroes are going to swoop in and make all the bad press go away.

Oh wait. That’s bullshit.

Here’s why:

The search results page on Google for your company name is NOT your reputation.

Sure, it’s what comes up when someone searches for you.

But your REAL reputation is what real human beings think of you. What your customers are talking about. What the press is talking about. And what your leads are talking about.

And all of those things are completely independent of a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) page.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Let’s say you build a product that claims it increases the fuel efficiency of any car. You’ve sold 50,000 units and people are starting to write about you.

The first page of Google for the search term “most amazing, super duper, gas saving, wallet exploding widget” (your stupid product name) comes up with your website, and a few good reviews and a few bad ones.

You hate those bad ones.

I mean how could they say those mean things about your company? Those meanies must not know what they’re talking about.

Time to “reputation manage” them!

You hire a company to push down the ranking of the offending articles, and to boost some other ones that make you feel better about yourself.

A job well done.

Reputation Management 1. Eric Sloan 0.

But is this move really going to increase your sales?

Maybe… a bit.

But what about the sites that people go to when they want a good ol’ honest review of a product [like amazon]? Those customers are going to go to these sites regardless of whether they show up in the search results or not.

And what about the bloggers who have huge audiences that are subscribed to their blog? How are you going to silence them?

And what about the fact that, in the end, you haven’t really solved the problem in the first place…

You haven’t made customers happy

How do I know this? If you were making customers happy, there would be many more positive things said online than negative. If you’re scrambling to drive down articles that speak badly about you, then you probably need to take a good look at how your company is run.

If you were delighting customers on a regular basis would you still have this problem? Or would you have an army of fanboys and girls who were standing up for you on your behalf?

Do you think companies like Apple need to do “negative seo”?

What are you hiding from?

In the end you have to make a decision. Are you going to hide all of the comments from meanies who don’t like you? Or are you going to create amazing products and give great customer support that people might actually dig?

If you focus on making customers happy instead of silencing the loud ones who see through your bullshit, you might just end up with a positive online reputation that is lasting and strong.

And that’s what you wanted in the first place.

5 Quick Ways To Improve Your Online Reputation… for free

  1. Ask for comments and reviews from your happy customers
  2. Produce more content that people find valuable
  3. Engage with people on social sharing sites instead of just announcing your sales
  4. Shed your “professionalism” and act like a real human being
  5. Change your company culture to focus on delighting customers instead of following policies

Let me know your thoughts below.

~E

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